Leaf Treeline

Translation prices: how much does translation cost?

Technical Translation

English is a global language and its importance continues to grow in our globalised world. In addition to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom, it is spoken in over 50 other countries in the world as a second language.


As such, it comes as no surprise that the demand for German to English translations is constantly increasing. From brochures for travel agencies to company websites and advertising designed to attract international customers – English translation is needed in all sectors.


So how much does an English translation cost?
What types of translation services are there?
And, is it worth paying for a professional translation?


Read on to find the answers to all of these questions about the cost of translation and more.

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What types of German-English translations are there?

If you want to translate your content from German into English then you basically have three options. And, needless to say, there are pros and cons for each.


  1. Google Translate and other machine translations

Everyone has heard of Google Translate. If you are trying to understand a foreign-language website or you are abroad and want to know what a sign means then Google Translate is the quickest way of finding the answer. And it is free. We all know and love Google Translate, but it has its limits. As with any machine translation tool, there is one thing it cannot deliver: error-free results.


Machine translation may be fast and cost-effective, but it soon reaches its limits, especially if you are translating complex sentences or exotic language combinations. Depending on the amount of text you are translating and the purpose of the translation, it is well worth getting the final version proofread by a professional. It is likely that the translation will need some improving.


  1. Do it yourself!

As we touched on above, English is a global language. In Germany, for example, it is taught as a compulsory second language. If you want to keep the cost of translation down, you may be able to translate the German text yourself. It will certainly take longer than Google Translate, but the result will probably be better, depending on your command of the English language, of course. The only costs you have here are your own time and the possible additional cost of a professional proofreader.


  1. A professional translator

If you want to make sure that your content is translated properly and to a high standard, there is really only one option: a professional translator. Of course, going with a professional German to English translator will cost more than translating the document yourself, but you may well save yourself a lot of time, effort and even money in the long run, as I will explain later.

Not all professional translators are the same and it is important that you choose the right translator for your individual project. If you want more help finding the right translation company, check out this article on the LEaF blog.

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Free translations can be costly

We have taken a look at the different ways that you can get your German text translated into English and the disadvantages that the cheaper options entail. The truth is, if your sole focus is on keeping the price as low as possible, it can end up costing you more in the long run.


Even though technology has made impressive steps forward, machine translation still doesn’t represent a standalone translation service. It should never be used as the sole means of translation, especially when you are translating text that you are going to use in a professional capacity.


When Kernseife (curd soap) is translated as “nuclear soap” and Herrengedeck (German for a beer and a shot of schnapps) as “Mr Gedeck” you can’t help but smile.


But it is not a good look for your company website. Machine translation also has trouble coping with grammar and context. In short, a machine-translated sales page on your website is more likely to raise the eyebrows of your customers than convince them to buy your product.


And this is the crux of the issue and the reason you could end up paying a high price for these “free” translations: they make your English content look unprofessional. Your website content is your main tool for acquiring new customers. You want to give them the impression that they have found the perfect place to shop or the perfect service provider. But a badly translated website can really put people off. You might have a really fantastic product, but you don’t ever make any sales, because potential customers are put off by poor translations that make your brand look unprofessional.


And creating a bad impression is not the only problem. Incorrect translations can also lead to misunderstandings. If a product is described incorrectly and the customer receives something different to what they thought they had ordered, you can end up paying for it. A situation easily avoided by investing in a professional translation service provided by a professional translator or translation company. If you want to find out more about Google Translate and the other hidden costs of free translations, take a look at this article on the LEaF blog.

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The Native Speaker Principle

Are you confident about your grasp of English? Do you intend to translate your text yourself? It is a great way to avoid the often serious errors found in machine translations, and the only cost involved is your own time. But, a word of caution: translating a few sentences here and there and perhaps a title or two is not likely to cause too much of a problem if you have a good level of English; but if you are thinking about translating longer pieces of text, it is worth considering the Native Speaker Principle. It is a cornerstone of professional translation, and we have written all about it in a separate blog, if you want to find out more.


It basically says that translators should always translate into their native language, and with good reason:


  • Even though you may be amazing at English and have no trouble understanding English texts and translating them into German, it doesn’t mean that you can write perfect English and can translate into English. Native speakers handle language in a completely different way to non-native speakers. Texts written by native speakers tend to have a more natural flow to them.
  • This is especially important when it comes to producing a natural-sounding translation. There is a lot more to translation than knowing a lot of vocab. We have all come across texts that have been translated “correctly” but that just don’t sound quite right. Translation is not just about swapping one word for another. You need to know the language inside out to be able to create a perfect translation.
  • This is generally what separates native speakers from non-native speakers. Most translations aren’t actually 1:1 translations; instead they are localisations. The aim is to convey the context, tone and flow of the original into the target language. You can, of course, translate “Ich glaube mein Schwein pfeift” (a German expression meaning “I don’t believe it!”) with “I think my pig whistles”, but it makes zero sense in English and would just confuse the reader.


If you want to create the best possible impression and properly convey the meaning of the original text, make sure you follow the Native Speaker Principle.

LEaF Englische Übersetzungen

How are translation rates calculated?

You may now have decided to opt for a professional translator, so that you can be sure to get the best possible result for your translation. The only question left concerns price.


Let’s now take a look at how prices are calculated for translations. There are different ways to calculate a translation rate and various factors that affect the price.


Prices are often given per line or per word of the source text. One line is equivalent to 55 characters (including spaces). Translation prices are also sometimes based on the overall length of the text, and discounts may be offered for larger projects.


Type of text

The difficulty of the text also plays a decisive role. There is a big difference between translating a complex medical text and a flyer for a travel agency. The format of the text is also relevant. A general rule of thumb: the more complex the task for the translator, the higher the price.



Is the translation especially urgent or do you need the translator to be really flexible regarding changes? These factors can also increase the price. Large translations with a very short deadline tend to incur additional costs.


Professional experience

If your translation is for a specific sector, it can be a good idea to find a translator or agency that specialises in this field. Some translators specialise in advertising, technical translation, finance, legal translations, medical texts or gaming, for example. It may be more expensive to work with an experienced translator for one of these fields, but the quality is likely to be considerably higher than if you work with an inexperienced translator.



Be very cautious about really cheap translations. A cheap translation is not necessarily a bad translation; just as the most expensive translation will not necessarily be the best. But you should proceed with extreme caution when it comes to really cheap translations. There is a very high risk that the translator will not take the necessary time to do the translation, or they might use machine translation and cut corners when it comes to post-editing. Translation takes time and requires a lot of brain power. Fast, cheap translations are often low-quality translations.

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What is the average price for a translation?

As I have explained above, there are several variables that affect the cost of a translation. Translation prices can vary massively as a result. As such, it is definitely worth getting a few different quotes before making a final decision. Here is a table outlining the costs you can expect for a translation:


Translation per line:

  Low complexity High complexity
Non-specialised € 0.80 to € 1.80 € 1.40 to € 2.50
Highly specialised € 1.40 to € 2.50 € 1.60 to € 4.00


Translation per word:

Low complexity High complexity
From € 0.11 Up to € 0.25


Translation per hour:

Standard rate Minimum rate
€ 36.00 € 27.00



LEaF Translations offers a premium translation service. We have over 10 years’ professional translation experience and yet we are still cheaper than many large translation agencies. This is because we are small and agile and are able to keep our overheads down. Our standard rate for translations is € 0.12 per word (no VAT to pay). Please note, however, that prices can vary based on the aforementioned factors.


The best way to find out how much it would cost to work with LEaF is to send us an enquiry together with your source text. We will send you a personalised quote in return.

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1) How much does translation cost per word?
Between € 0.11 € and € 0.25

2) How much do translators charge per hour?
The average hourly rate is € 36.00; the minimum rate is € 27.00

3) How many characters does a standard line contain?
A standard line contains 55 characters with spaces

4) How much does translation cost per line?
Between € 0.80 and € 4.00, depending on the complexity of the text and the experience of the translator

5) How many words does a standard page contain?
A standard page contains approx. 250 words (1,500 characters)

6) How much does a translation cost per page?
Between € 27.50 and € 62.50



Always take care when it comes to free and extremely cheap translations. If you want the text to impress readers or win over potential customers, always try to find a professional translator to help you. Get a few different quotes and find the translator and the price that feels right for you!



Do you need help translating a German website or document into English?

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About the Author

Lucy LEaF blog 2018


Lucy Pembayun is a German to English translator with over 13 years of professional translation experience. She graduated with an MA(Hons) in German from Edinburgh University before being awarded a DAAD scholarship to study for a post-graduate Masters in Germany. She has lived in Bamberg, Fulda and Berlin, and now resides in York, UK, with her husband and two children.
Lucy specialises in translating German websites, blog posts, sales brochures and other marketing materials into English and is also an experienced proofreader and editor.
Write to Lucy at lucy@leaftranslations.com to find out how Lucy can help up-level your English content.

The LEaF Translation Blog